By: Joel Lugar, ACD/Copywriter
Another Super Bowl has come and gone, and with it another round of eye-poppingly expensive advertisements. As advertisers ourselves, it is our job to closely examine these commercials and form expert opinions that we then share via snarky, anonymous tweets and magnanimous blog posts (which are not anonymous by pure coincidence).
Last year’s Super Bowl commercials had a theme of social consciousness, a.k.a., woke-ness. Immigration and feminism were the subject matter of the most memorable spots during the game. At least 84 Lumber and Audi are the only commercials I can even remember, and memorability is a strong goal for an ad that costs as much to produce and air as all these Super Bowl commercials do.
This year, we still had a smattering of woke ads, but there was a rising swell of funny—and “funny”—commercials, as well. It’s my opinion that the trend toward humor is a response to a feeling of negativity that has been affecting a lot of the country, and I expect next year’s round of ads to have an even higher percentage of comedy-driven spots among them.
OK, let’s get to the commercials. My overall winner for the night is Tide. These spots starring “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour were hilarious, self-aware, original and, most amazingly, included a hashtag (#TideAd) that people on social media actually used. Tide utilized past Super Bowl ads to market its product while making viewers consider that every commercial they watched during the game actually might turn out to be a #TideAd by the end of it. So while you were watching a spot for one product, you’re thinking about Tide the entire time. Genius idea, masterfully executed. Kudos.
My favorite single commercial was for Jeep. They had three different spots on the night, made by three different ad agencies, but the simplest of the three stood out from the others. It’s called “Anti-Manifesto” (which is maybe a little inside-baseball talk for ad peeps), and it’s a single-shot product demonstration of a Jeep driving across a rapidly moving stream before climbing a bank of boulders that would require dynamite for most other vehicles to get past. This spot is an elegant example of how showing is more powerful than telling.
When you create a socially conscious ad, you know that you are going to alienate one group of people for certain, though you do so in hope that your brand will be rewarded for its courage to pick the “right” side. However, there’s a chance you might anger all sides of a discussion if your ad is perceived as tone-deaf. That’s what happened with Ram’s MLK spot “Built to Serve.” Perhaps using a speech from one of capitalism’s most famous and revered critics to sell pickup trucks wasn’t the best idea.
A lot of other commercials that aired during the game are worth mentioning, but I’m always interested in the attempts to capitalize on the Super Bowl from brands choosing to advertise peripherally. This year, Skittles took a big swing in this area. They made a “Super Bowl spot” and showed it to a single teenager. Just him. And during the game, on Facebook Live they streamed a video of the teen watching it. It’s a few days later, and he is still the only person to have seen the commercial. It’s a great and interesting idea. Unfortunately, no one heard about it, and most of us who did watch the stream were left feeling a little empty. I guess it was just a good idea in theory, and I’m impressed that Skittles and their advertisers went for it. It just wasn’t that entertaining.
Leave a comment and tell me which spots were your favorites. Too much Dilly Dilly? Not enough Dilly Dilly? Hey, it’s all subjective, so you can’t be wrong. The only thing we can all agree on is that Justin Timberlake songs lack discernible melodies. On that, we all agree.
This has been a Super Bowl blo—nope. Tide ad.